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Cowboys news: Where does Dak Prescott need to improve, when will Zack Martin return?

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question that remains to be answered for the Cowboys - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota takes a moment to answer some questions, including what Dak Prescott needs to improve on.

Where does Dak need to show improvement in Year 3 of his career to you?

Jon Machota: Accuracy is something that's been talked about since his rookie season. That's probably at the top of the list of things he's always trying to improve. He's talked a lot this offseason about his footwork in the pocket. No quarterback at his age has it all figured out. Franchise QBs are usually at their best in their 30s because there's so much to learn at the position. As long as [he] continues to have the same work ethic, everything should take care of itself on Sundays.

2018 Cowboys: Projecting Dak Prescott's Production - John Williams, Inside The Star
After two seasons, Cowboys fans are wondering what they’ll get from Dak Prescott in year number three. Williams does a nice breakdown and gives his best guess as to what type of season Prescott will have in 2018.

I see Dak Prescott as the quarterback we saw for the first 24 games of his career and think he can return to that level of play. Especially with an improved offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott available for all 16 games.

I know some of you are going to tell me I'm drinking that Silver and Blue Kool-Aid, and maybe I am a bit, but when you look at the numbers he put up over the first 24 games of his career, you can't help but see a good and capable quarterback.

They can and will win games with Dak Prescott.

Final Projections: Goes 325/490 for 3,776 yards and 27 touchdowns, 50 carries for 300 yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, and 6 interceptions with a passer rating of 102.

Dak Prescott: I like what we have – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
The Cowboys young quarterback is excited about the new pieces in place for the Cowboys offense.

Prescott likes everything about the Cowboys. While everyone outside the locker room is focused on what the Cowboys lost in Dez Bryant, Scandrick and Witten, Prescott instead focuses on what they have.

The organized team activities gave Prescott a chance to work with his new receivers and tight ends, including Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz.

“We got a good feel for one another,” Prescott said. “We got a good feel for this offense. We got a good feel for this defense. A great feel for where this team is heading. I liked everything I saw out there.”

Of course, one of the most frequently question asked by Cowboys fans is - when will that Zack Martin fella sign?

Irish In The NFL: Zack Martin Is On The Verge Of A Big Payday - J.P. Scott, Slap The Sign
The former Notre Dame offensive lineman has been one of the top players in the league since joining the Cowboys in 2014 and it won't be long until he's paid accordingly.

All signs point to a deal getting done before the 2018 season begins. That deal should make Martin the highest paid guard in the National Football League.

This would behoove both Zack Martin and the Cowboys. Dallas is entering a season without either Dez Bryant, Jason Witten or Tony Romo on its roster for the first time since 2003. Suffice to say, it could take a while for the passing game to get back to where it needs to be in order for Dallas to contend by the end of the season.

And until the two sides can site [sic] down at a negotiating table, Zack Martin continues to sit out of workouts, yet remains involved and present on the Cowboy campus.

This amicable agreement is a good sign for both sides.

How long will Cowboys guard Zack Martin hold out? - Mark Lane, WFAA Sports
Martin has opted out of attending the volunteering part of camp, but soon his choice to sit out could have consequences.

Let's go back to 2016. The Cowboys had another truant guard in Ron Leary, who missed all of OTAs because he wanted to be traded. Do you know why he showed up at mini-camp in mid-June? Because they are mandatory; the club could have fined him for every practice missed.

Of course, Leary filled in beautifully when the regular season rolled around. Starting left guard La'el Collins, who was in large part the impetus for Leary wanting to leave Dallas, played only three games before going to injured reserve with a torn ligament in his right big toe. Leary started 13 games at his old position and helped the Cowboys to a 13-3 mark and the top spot in the NFC Playoffs.

Martin hasn’t been practicing as he’s waiting things out for a new deal, but what about the players who are?

OTA standouts to watch this summer - Terence Watson, The Landry Hat
Which players turned heads at OTA's? Watson takes a look at six players that stood out over the last three weeks of practice.

Blake Jarwin

Jarwin has been able to show his ability to make plays in the passing game. We already know he is a willing blocker coming out of college, but showing this part of his game will surely get him on the field during the season. If he can continue to build a rapport with Dak Prescott we may be looking at our tight end of the future.

And on the defensive side of he ball...

Jihad Ward

Ward was labeled a draft bust during his time with the Oakland Raiders. During his time with the Dallas Cowboys, he is showing what many believed he could be in the NFL. He has shown he can push the pocket making it difficult for the quarterbacks during these OTA’s. He also has been able to stuff some runs as well. If he can continue to show he can create havoc up the middle he would be a nice steal for the Cowboys.

The Biggest Standout of Every NFL Team's Offseason so Far - Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report takes a look at each team and identifies which players have received the most hype after the completion of OTA's, including a new face in a new place in Big D.

Dallas Cowboys: Jihad Ward’s Todd Archer wondered this week if the Dallas Cowboys “have found something” in defensive tackle Jihad Ward, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Oakland Raiders and has received strong reviews coming out of OTAs.

Archer noted that Ward “has been active and moves well,” while Bryan Broaddus of the team’s official website has also praised his practice performances. He’s “already turning some heads,” according to Connor Livesay of Blogging the Boys, who suggested the 24-year-old is “in the mix for a big role.”

It’s possible a change of setting is just what Ward needed. We know he has the ability as a second-round pick. Now he’s ahead of the game in Dallas.

Jihad Ward happy for fresh start - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
If you don't know much about the Cowboys new defensive tackle, allow Davison to get you up to speed.

Ward posted just one sack and 32 tackles in two seasons with the Raiders, and became expendable with a new coaching staff led by Jon Gruden coming in. The Cowboys parted ways with Switzer after acquiring Tavon Austin from the Rams.

As coach Jason Garrett said shortly after the team acquired Ward, "We feel like he fits in our scheme of being an up-the-field pressure guy. A guy who can disrupt the running game and affect the passer."

Ward has the size (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) and athleticism to play in the NFL, but had been considered a developmental prospect coming out of Illinois.

Maybe a coach such as Rod Marinelli is the person who can restart what appears to be a stalled development. Ward certainly thinks so.

"Trust is the key with Marinelli," Ward said. "I think Marinelli is one of the best coaches in this game and one of the legends. So I’m very thankful to be here with the defensive line."

Most valuable Cowboys: the names we may regret leaving off - Jeff Cavanaugh, The Athletic
If you thought The Athletic's Top 20 list was over, well..think again. Jeff Cavanaugh provides three bonus picks for players who have a shot to be something great this season.

WR Michael Gallup

Early reports out of OTAs have also been positive. Combine that with Terrance Williams not being able to work yet and there’s a chance for Gallup to conceivably step in as a starting receiver from day one. If that happens there’s also a real shot for him to put up some pretty impressive rookie numbers.

Being a consistent route runner and third down converter like he was in college (even with QB struggles a year ago) makes him viable in the spots the team leaned on Jason Witten.

Dallas Cowboys 2018 Hidden Gem: Cedrick Wilson Jr. - Randy Gurzi, NFL Spin Zone
Michael Gallup isn't the only rookie receiver who could turn out to be a good find for the Cowboys.

For his career, the speedy receiver averaged an impressive 19 yards per catch. That kind of downfield threat was something the Cowboys lacked int heir offense last season, which makes this rookie a potential hidden gem on a roster desperate for a wide receiver to step up. He’s also already getting a lot of love for his work in the offseason programs.

It’s not often that the 208th player taken in the draft turns heads right away, but there’s reason to buy the hype on this kid. He has the size at 6-2 to play out on the edges, but showed enough discipline in his route running that he could be an option as a taller slot receiver.

Dallas Cowboys 2018 Job Security Rankings: Defense - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star
How's the job security of your favorite defensive players? Jess Haynie stacks the players into tiers and examines who's locked down a roster spot and who's still fighting for a job.

Tier 3 - On the Team, But Where?

DE Taco Charlton, DE Dorance Armstrong, DL Tyrone Crawford, DL David Irving, DT Maliek Collins, DT Jihad Ward, LB Leighton Vander Esch, LB Damien Wilson, CB Byron Jones, CB Anthony Brown, S Kavon Frazier, S Jeff Heath, S Xavier Woods

There are a lot of options on the defensive line right now, but Taco Charlton's first-round pick keeps him safe in just his second year. His positive play to close 2017, and good reports out of the spring camps, cement his being on the team next year. Rookie Dorance Armstrong, drafted in the fourth round last April, should also make it on draft stock alone.

David Irving is too good to cut but his recent struggles and absence from camps and OTAs put a question mark on him. How big a role will Irving get next year if the team loses confidence in him over the remainder of the offseason?

8 Cowboys’ contracts worth $26M of dead money, but not all is bad - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The Cowboys have a lot of dead money counting against the books this season, but does that mean all those decisions have been bad? K.D. examines these choices as he takes a look at the good, the bad, and...the future.

The Future

All of this will most likely coincide with a switch to how they sign their stars long-term anyway. With over $11 million in cap space remaining this year and over $64 million of space on next year’s projected cap, the Cowboys have an opportunity to swing to the other end of the pendulum if they wish.

They may be able to start paying players up front and keeping the cap hits in the early years of the deal. This would mean that if they choose to walk away from any deals early, there will be less penalty for it.

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